US and UK officials announced charges against two Russian nationals accused of running an organised cyber crime syndicate that stole hundreds of millions of dollars from victims in over 40 countries.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev were accused on Thursday of using a notorious piece of hacking software called “Bugat” or “Dridex” to steal online banking credentials in an alleged criminal conspiracy that began in 2009.

Officials from the US Department of Justice and the UK National Crime Agency called the pair prolific cybercriminals who had effectively committed bank robberies from their computers in Russia.

The US Treasury department separately sanctioned “Evil Corp”, the criminal syndicate allegedly run by Mr Yakubets and Mr Turashev, and claimed Mr Yakubets had provided “direct assistance to the Russian government’s malicious cyber efforts” through his alleged work for Russian intelligence.

Mr Yakubets and Mr Turashev were both indicted in the US in relation to the “Bugat” malware, while Mr Yakubets was additionally charged with a scheme involving another type of malware known as “Zeus”.

Brian Benczkowski, head of the US justice department’s criminal division, said Mr Yakubets was “responsible for two of the worst computer hacking and bank fraud schemes of the past decade”.

Rob Jones, director of the cyber crime unit at the UK’s NCA, said the two men had targeted “thousands of victims” in 43 countries, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars to fund their “cash-rich, fast cars” lifestyle.

Undated handout photo issued by National Crime Agency of a police officer speaking to Maksim Yakubets, 32, from Moscow, accused of running the world's most harmful cyber crime group which used computer viruses to cheat UK victims out of hundreds of millions of pounds, is facing charges for hacking and fraud. PA Photo. Issue date: Thursday December 5, 2019. Yakubets, from Moscow, who is said to run the group Evil Corp, has been indicted in the US over two international computer hacking and bank fraud schemes in operation since 2009, officials announced at a press conference in Washington DC on Thursday. See PA story POLICE Cyber. Photo credit should read: National Crime Agency/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
A photo issued by the UK National Crime Agency of Maksim Yakubets and his car © PA

Investigators had identified online accounts associated with the men that showed them “behaving and acting like very flamboyant and extravagant millionaires”, said Mr Jones at a joint press conference in Washington DC.

The NCA released pictures of what it said was Mr Yakubets’ customised Lamborghini “with a personalised number plate that translates to ‘Thief’”.

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